Employing an Urban Designer

An urban designer needs to understand the planning system, the principles of urbanism, development economics, context appraisal, movement analysis, regeneration strategy, conservation, landscape design, site planning, masterplanning, public and stakeholder collaboration, implementation, project funding, project management, graphic communication, negotiation, and how to formulate design policy and write guidance. After all, how could a professional who does not meet that specification possibly get to grips with the full complexities of the urban design and development process?

The following are tasks that are carried out by urban designers. Some urban designers have the necessary skills and experience to carry out all of them. Others have more limited capabilities. 

These are not all mutually exclusive: carrying out a policy review is likely to be part of preparing a development brief, for example.


  • Writing urban design policies for a development plan
  • Monitoring and reviewing design policy and guidance


  • Carrying out an urban morphology study
  • Carrying out a policy review
  • Carrying out a site and context appraisal
  • Carrying out a public space appraisal, including space syntax analysis
  • Carrying out a feasibility appraisal
  • Carrying out or facilitating a Placecheck


  • Advising prospective planning applicants on design aspects of development
  • Advising elected politicians and local government officers on design aspects of development
  • Giving design advice on planning applications as part of the development control function of a local authority
  • Advising other local government services on urban design matters
  • Advising on the form and content of design statements as part of the submission requirements accompanying planning applications
  • Appearing as an expert witness, preparing statements of evidence, and giving evidence on urban design matters on appeals into planning applications and development plan inquiries
  • Advising the public on urban design matters
  • Collaborating with a range of professionals across local authority service areas


  • Preparing a vision statement
  • Drawing up an urban code
  • Drawing up a design code
  • Writing and illustrating urban design guidance
  • Writing a design guide
  • Writing a development brief
  • Writing an urban design framework
  • Drawing up a set of planning and design principles for a specific area or site
  • Preparing a design statement
  • Preparing a public realm strategy.
  • Drawing up a set of planning and design principles for a specific area or site


  • Designing the movement network for an area or site
  • Designing a development layout for an area or site
  • Producing indicative layouts for specific sites
  • Preparing a master plan
  • Preparing site drawings
  • Preparing presentations


  • Negotiating with planning applicants and their agents
  • Managing the process of public and stakeholder involvement
  • Setting briefs for and managing design consultants
  • Managing the development process
  • Negotiating with public service professionals in submitting design statements
  • Managing the process of public stakeholder involvement in connection with the preparation of public realm strategies, development briefs and urban design frameworks
  • Setting briefs for and managing design consultants
  • Enabling and managing the development process
  • Formulating and setting urban design performance indicators
  • Collaborating with public service professionals on the management, design and maintenance of the public realm


  • Setting up and administering a local design awards scheme
  • Advising on the establishment of local design panels